Alcoa needs a safe, reliable method of receiving alumina to continue its operation in Wenatchee, WA, which employs 467 people and generates $52 million in local spending.
Alcoa, the world’s leading producer of primary aluminum and fabricated aluminum, has been creating jobs and operating facilities in Washington State for more than 60 years. The company imports alumina, a critical raw material in the manufacture of aluminum, by way of the Longview Terminal, which has been handling alumina since the 1960s. From there the material is transported by rail to Alcoa’s facility in Wenatchee, WA.
Why the Longview Port is Important to Alcoa Wenatchee Works
Continued operation of the Wenatchee facility is dependent on a safe, reliable method of receiving alumina through Longview. The terminal is the only location for off-loading alumina from ocean-going vessels that has direct rail connections. Since alumina is transported from Australia by ship, Longview is the best location for off-loading the material and then transporting it to Wenatchee.
To maintain a safe port for these ships, Northwest Alloys, and the site operator, Millennium Bulk Terminals (MBTL), applied for a Joint Aquatic Reserve Permit Application (JARPA) from the United States Army Corps of Engineers to perform necessary maintenance work on the Longview Terminal. The work, most of which has now been completed, included safety and maintenance repairs to the dock as well as maintenance dredging around it to remove shoaling (silt) that naturally built up over time and was impeding the ability of ships to dock, increasing the risk of damage to ships and potential spills. The completed work makes the dock safer for importing alumina and protects the environment from potential spills that could have resulted from ship groundings.
Alcoa Wenatchee Works depends on a safe, reliable port in Longview for supply of alumina to the plant.
Alumina has been imported by ship through Longview since the 1960s. During this time, the Longview berth, like other berths on the Columbia River, has required routine maintenance dredging and repair to ensure safe operation.
The port is the best thing for the environment. If ships can’t dock in Longview, alumina transport would have to be done via another port and then trucked to Wenatchee, significantly increasing costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
The Longview Berth uses a vacuum unloader for alumina that is more advanced and environmentally superior to bucket crane systems.
The safety of the dock is vitally important, and the dredging and maintenance work must be completed within the “fish window,” which is October 2011 through December 31, 2011. If the dredging work is not completed within the “fish window,” our operations will continue to be impacted and at-risk.
Coal will not be shipped across this dock
This has been an area of concern for some residents so we want to be clear on this point: MBTL will not unload or move coal over the existing dock that is supplying Alcoa with its alumina and is the subject of the permits filed for work in the fish window.
MBTL has committed to perform a full assessment, complete an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and request permits for a new dock with the appropriate local, state and federal regulatory entities for their proposed coal operations. That process is completely unrelated to the work proposed in the JARPA permits to perform safety and maintenance repairs at the Longview dock to ensure the continued supply of alumina to Alcoa's Wenatchee smelter.